The calendar below, created by Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark, is an excellent way to keep on top of religious high holy days and festivals as they go by. It is especially useful for those in interfaith vocations who need this information on a day-to-day basis.
TIO is cooperating with another “working” religious calendar project being led by Read the Spirit. It extends what we usually mean by religious calendar to include important civic holidays. It identifies major religious holidays more than a year in advance. Most important, it features stories about what these many religious festival events are all about – what they mean, the important stories, the food associated, and how particular events are celebrated. Your own stories of religious holidays, whatever your tradition, are welcomed at the site. Check it out!
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Religious Holy Days in July & August 2014
For Native Americans, August marks the season of Wilhoon, the season marking the salmon runs of late summer; the Hopi Snake Dances, marking a sixteen-day ritual of purification; the Stomp Dance, performed by Seminole and other Oklahoma tribes as a time of renewal and purification; the Sun Dance, observed by Plains peoples (Arapaho, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Arikara, Crow, Sioux, and others) as a time of penitence and sacrifice; and the Iroquois Green Corn Ceremony, a time of renewal involving dances, fasting, offerings, and readings from the code of Handsome Lake.
Tuesday, July 22
Feast of St. Mary Magdalene – Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran Christian churches
Also known as the Penitent, Mary Magdalene is celebrated as one of Jesus’ earliest and most faithful disciples, after being healed by him. She is also recognized as a witness to Jesus’ death and the first recorded witness of his resurrection on Easter.
Wednesday, July 23
Laylat al-Qadr [Night of Power or Destiny] – Islam
A festival commemorating the first revelation of the Qur’ān to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 C.E., at the age of forty. The festival begins at sundown.
Birthday of Emperor Haile Salassi I – Rastafari
Celebrating the birth of Ras [prince or chief] Tafari Makonnen (1892 – 1975 C.E.), who ruled as Emperor of Ethiopia from 1916 to 1974 (officially from 1930 to 1974), and who is professed by faithful Rasta believers as God incarnate.
Birthday of Gurū Har Krishan Sahib Ji – Sikhism
Marking the birth of the 8th and youngest of the 11 Sikh Gurūs (1656 – 1664 C.E.) in the Nanakshahi calendar.
Thursday, July 24
Pioneer Day – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Celebrated annually as the anniversary of the entry of LDS pioneers into the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, in Utah in 1847 C.E., after a historic trek across 1,300 miles of wilderness.
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), according to the Qadimi calendar.
Friday, July 25
Jum’at al-Wadā [Farewell Friday] – Islam
As the last Friday in the month of Ramadān and the Friday immediately preceding Eid al-Fitr, this day is not a festival day, but it is still considered special by many Muslims.
Monday, July 28
Eid al-Fitr – Islam
This is the Breaking of the Fast that celebrates the end of the month of Ramadān. Usually lasting three days, this festival begins with communal prayer and may also include charitable acts, visiting family and friends, preparing special foods, dressing in new clothes, and giving gifts.
Wednesday, July 30
Oharai-taisai – Shinto
A purification ceremony to cleanse believers from offenses committed during the first half of the year. A large ring of woven grasses and reeds is placed at the entrance to Shinto shrines, and people walk through the ring as a symbol of inner purification.
Friday, August 1
Kamál – Bahá’í
The beginning of the eighth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “perfection.”
Lughnassadh [Lammas] – Wicca
The harvest of first fruits, celebrating the harvest of corn and wheat. Wiccan practitioners see this time as a signal of the god Lugh’s decline of strength as the sun rises farther south each day, while the Goddess witnesses this season with sorrow and joy. It is both a somber and celebratory feast day.
Monday, August 4
Tisha B’Av – Judaism
Beginning at sundown, a solemn day of mourning and fasting for the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, as well as other tragedies in Jewish history that coincide with this date.
Wednesday, August 6
Feast of the Transfiguration – Christianity (Western and Eastern churches)
Celebrates the manifestation of Jesus’ divinity as God’s Son to his disciples Peter, James, and John on Mount Tabor.
Friday, August 8
Fravardeghan Days [Muktad] begin – Zoroastrianism
A time of memorializing one’s ancestors in preparation for Nowruz [see August 18], according to Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar.
Sunday, August 10
Zhōngyuán Jié [Ghost Festival] – Taoism
According to Chinese Taoist belief, this day is when deceased ancestors visit the homes of the living. Families prepare feasts and set tables with empty chairs so that the living and the dead can share the meal together.
Narali Purnima or Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan – Hinduism
Celebrating the end of monsoon season, marked by throwing coconuts to Varuna, the sea god. During this festival, girls and women tie amulets on their brothers’ wrists for protection against evil.
Ullambana – Buddhism
A day when Buddhists make offerings to the Triple Gem—the Buddha, the Dharma [teachings], and the Sangha [monastic community]—on behalf of their ancestors.
Friday, August 15
Assumption of the Virgin Mary – Christianity [Catholic churches]
According to the Catholic Church, this day commemorates how, at the end of her life, Jesus’ mother Mary was assumed—body and soul—into heaven, where she intercedes for all believers.
Dormition of the Theotokos or Most Holy Mother of God – Christianity [Orthodox churches]
According to the Orthodox Church, this day marks Mary’s death and resurrection by God, as a sign to all believers of their ultimate destiny.
Monday, August 18
Nowruz – Zoroastrianism
The start of the New Year for Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar, beginning the year 1384 AY [After Yazdegird III, the last of the Persian Zoroastrian monarchs].
Sri Krishna Jayanti or Krishna Janmashtami – Hinduism
A festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the god Vishnu, whose purpose was to destroy the demon Kansa who was responsible for evil’s increase in the world.
Wednesday, August 20
Asmā’ – Bahá’í
The beginning of the ninth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “names.”
Friday, August 22
Paryusana or Paryushan Parva begins – Jainism
The beginning of an eight-day festival that is considered a holy convocation by Jains. Believers impose restraints on their daily activities by fasting, meditation, and prayer. The last day of Paryusana is called Samvatsari (Saturday, August 30) and is a solemn occasion for examining one’s thoughts and feelings, and for asking forgiveness for offenses committed against others through deeds, words, or thoughts.
Saturday, August 23
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), according to the Shenshai calendar.
Tuesday, August 26
Festival of Ksitigarbha (Jizō) Bodhisattva – Buddhism
Celebrating Ksitigarbha (Jizō) Bodhisattva, the savior of beings who suffer in the hellish realms, as well as the guardian of expectant mothers, travelers, and deceased children in Japanese culture.
Friday, August 29
Ganesh Chaturthi – Hinduism
A festival celebrating the birth of Ganesh, the god who removes obstacles and brings luck.
Das Laxanä Parva begins – Jainism
The Festival of the Ten Virtues, celebrated over ten days by the Digambara Jains, helps believers to recall and practice forgiveness, tenderness or humility, honesty, contentment or purity, truth, self-restraint, austerities, charity, celibacy, and non-attachment.
If you want more information about any of these holy days, please contact Spiritual Care Services at 415-353-1941 (Rev. Dr. Michele Shields) or 415-353-2319 (Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark). Our thanks to the Chicago Center for Cultural Connections, the Multifaith Action Soceity of British Columbia (Canada), and www.interfaithcalendar.org.